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Monitoring a Dog or Cat with Diabetes

How to Monitor the Progress and Health of Pets with Diabetes


Monitoring a Diabetic Dog or Cat

Close monitoring is important for dogs and cats with diabetes.
Photo courtesy of tv42/Flickr.com

Monitoring the progress of a dog or cat with diabetes is important and only careful monitoring can provide the information needed to guide treatment decisions such as whether a change in the dose of insulin is needed or not.

Monitoring Your Diabetic Dog or Cat's Behavior at Home

One of the key purposes in the treatment of diabetes is being able to control the clinical signs of disease. Ideally, a well-regulated diabetic patient will have a normal appetite, will no longer lose weight (unless he is on a weight loss program), will no longer have intolerable increases in urine volume that lead to house soiling, will no longer be thirsty constantly and will have a respectable quality of life. These are the things that you, as a diabetic pet owner, want to watch for and be able to report to your veterinarian.

Physical Examination and the Diabetic Pet

Your veterinarian will want to see your pet periodically for a thorough physical examination. How often a physical examination is necessary will depend on your pet's individual circumstances. The physical examination will consist of a head to toe evaluation of your pet, including checking his weight and body condition and other vital signs. Routine blood and urine testing will likely be recommended as well.

Blood Glucose Measurement in Evaluating the Progress of a Dog or Cat with Diabetes

Though a blood glucose measurement may very well be part of the routine blood screen that your veterinarian performs as part of an examination, a single blood glucose level cannot be used to adequately evaluate the effectiveness of treatment for diabetes. It may be helpful, however, if your pet is experiencing an unexpected illness and it is necessary to find out whether the problem may be due to a hypoglycemic crisis (a dangerously low blood glucose level).

Serial blood glucose measurements are much more valuable in determining how effective your dog or cat's insulin regimen is in regulating his diabetes. These serial blood glucose measurements, usually measured every 1-2 hours starting at the time the insulin injection is given and continuing until the insulin effect has worn off, are known as a blood glucose curve.

Benefits of a Blood Glucose Curve in Monitoring the Progress of Diabetes in Your Dog or Cat

Your veterinarian can gather a lot of valuable information from a blood glucose curve. A blood glucose curve can indicate how long the effect of the insulin stays with your pet, how low your pet's glucose reading goes at the height of the insulin effect, whether your pet's glucose levels stay within the desired range most or all of the time and more.

This information can help you and your veterinarian determine whether the type of insulin your pet is receiving is working well for him, whether the dosage of insulin is adequate and whether the dosing interval is appropriate.

Under certain conditions, your veterinarian may ask you to perform a blood glucose curve at home. If so, you will be provided with directions regarding how to obtain the blood samples and how often to collect them.

Fructosamine Level and Monitoring Dogs and Cats with Diabetes

The fructosamine level is a blood test. Fructosamine is a protein molecule bound to a glucose molecule, also known as a glycated or glycosalated protein. Basically, it provides a measure of your pet's average blood glucose level over a period of roughly two weeks in duration. It is a useful test in monitoring diabetes in your pet but can misleading when used by itself under certain conditions. Because it represents an average only, it is useless in determining how high or how low your pet's blood glucose level goes during the course of the day.

Urine Testing and Diabetes in Dogs and Cats

Urinary tract infections are common in dogs and cats with diabetes and often can be occult (showing no symptoms) in these animals. Your veterinarian may want to check your pet's urine periodically to make sure your pet does not have a urinary tract infection. This is done with a urine culture.

A urinalysis may also be recommended to check for abnormal substances in the urine, such as excess glucose or ketones which may seen with uncontrolled diabetes.

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